Combining cartography and creative writing, Concrete Dialogues is a unique project that marks the beginning of a quite different map of Perth, Western Australia. Online and on paper, some of Perth’s best young writers will take you on a journey into parts of the city you’ve never known, and show you some of the memories that shape a place in the eyes of the people that call it home.
Exploring the possibilties of locative media using a combination of open source mapping tools and satellite imagery from Google Maps, Concrete Dialogues is an exploration of familiar (and not-so- familiar) streets through creative perspectives, from far-flung cul- de-sacs to the hidden alleys near home. The project, in development for two years, allows writers to submit creative works based on specific locations to the website, which integrates satellite imagery and street map data to create an online map of the Perth Metropolitan region. From the Concrete Dialogues website, readers can then navigate the postcodes of Perth and watch their journey traced out behind them. As young writers publish their works online, the digital map will grow as a hypertext that explores new perspectives of urban spaces, and will allow the Perth community to respond to its own environment.
“The project was founded with two ideas in mind,” said Patrick Pittman, one of the three-member team who put together the project over the course of two years.
“It is an attempt to find some beauty and some shared stories in a city too often dismissed as a dull wasteland of creativity and spirit, and to help build a community amongst emerging writers.
“There is a real poverty of opportunity for young writers in this city, and we set out with this project to bring as many talented people as we could together in ways that just weren’t possible before.
“One of our writers described the project as a shared collection of electronic songlines and I thought that fit rather well. Anybody under the age of 30 can submit their own story to the site and become part of the larger tale.”
Accompanying the launch of the site, the Concrete Dialogues Zine is making its own journey through the Perth metro area. Showcasing a selection of short stories and poetry from some of the best unknown writers in Perth, it can be found on cafe tables, in store displays, at bus stops, on train seats, in magazine racks and library shelves. This beautifully designed collection will be circulating haphazardly throughout the city and the suburbs; a careful eye may discover a copy near your own home. Each work within the Zine can be found on the website, so a reader can find it, read it and zoom in on a previously unassuming street, and perhaps uncover other works nearby.
The Concrete Dialogues project has been developed and produced by the Concrete Organisation, a not-for profit organisation focused on developing community arts and cultural projects, and stimulating the arts in Perth and beyond. The project is supported by ArtsWA, the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, and the Department of Land Information, Western Australia.